How to Keep Your Children Safe in the Sun

With the summer sun finally shining, more and more families are heading for the beach or spending more time outdoors. But while spending time in fresh air and sunshine is great for both children and adults, it's important to take precautions to prevent damage to the skin. The sun's ultraviolet rays can cause both painful sunburns and lasting damage. This damage can take the form of lines and wrinkles, known as photoageing. Even more seriously, prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. Over 70,000 new cases are reported every year, according to the British Association of Dermatologists. Although skin cancer is rare in children, the prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays that causes skin cancer starts in childhood, with the majority of skin damage from UV happening before we turn 20. Preventing overexposure to the sun in children is particularly important, firstly because children usually lack the foresight to protect themselves and secondly because a child's delicate skin is especially vulnerable to damage from the sun's rays. 

Cancer Research UK, Britain's foremost cancer charity, advises using several strategies to help prevent damage to the skin. Keeping to the shade can be a great way to stay cool on a sunny day while still enjoying the great outdoors. Portable sunshades and beach umbrellas can help to provide a refuge on a trip to the beach or park. Shade is particularly important for babies in strollers; make sure that they have plenty of shade to keep them cool and protected from ultraviolet radiation. 

Clothing is another important part of being prepared for summer. Although kids love to throw off their clothes and splash around in the pool, they need to cover up as much as they can. Cover their skin as soon as they're done swimming or playing, even if it's just by wrapping a towel around them. Hats can help to protect vulnerable areas like the face and back of the neck; a hat with a wide brim is the best option. Sunglasses are the key to protecting the eyes. Always look for sunglasses which provide 100% UV protection. 

The most important part of protecting your children from the sun, however, is to make sure that they wear sunscreen. Cancer Research UK states that factor 15 sunscreen is the minimum necessary for child safety. For a child's active lifestyle, a heavy-duty sunscreen such as Heliocare SPF 50+ gel can provide long-term protection for exposed skin. Remember to reapply sunscreen regularly, once every two to three hours, especially if your children are swimming. 

Keeping your children safe from sun damage to the skin can seem like a lot of work, but by protecting their vulnerable skin and teaching them good sun-protection habits, you're reducing the risk of painful sunburns now and skin cancer in later life.

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